Legal aid groups to meet over funding

·1-min read

Inadequate funding for legal aid by federal, state and territory governments will be the focus of a meeting of aid agencies in Adelaide.

The meeting on Wednesday and Thursday will discuss what the agencies say is a looming crisis across the country, with only the poorest of individuals eligible for assistance.

Legal Services Commission of SA Chief Executive Gabrielle Canny said budget decisions would impact critically on millions of vulnerable Australians in the years ahead.

"Too many impoverished Australians are already missing out on legal aid because government funding is far too low," Ms Canny said.

"Means testing is now so strict that some people who are eligible for pensions or welfare benefits are ineligible for legal aid.

"The general perception is that legal aid exists to provide legal representation if someone is too poor to afford a lawyer.

"But as things currently stand, legal aid commissions can provide aid only for the poorest individuals and only in certain cases.

Ms Canny said the Adelaide gathering was a crucial opportunity to examine the key challenges the sector faced in providing access to justice.

"It will consider the solutions that can best address those difficulties in the most cost-effective manner," she said.

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